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NHL Stadium Series Is a Smashing Success in Nashville

by Rich and Laura Lynch

Every since our arrival in Nashville we have experienced a boat load of fun and excitement courtesy of the NHL and the league's franchise team here in town. It began with the 2016 NHL All-Star Weekend and Fan Fest to be quickly followed by the Predators own 2017 chase for the Stanley Cup and appearance in the Finals. Still, the party that recently descended on Music City might have outdone them all when the NHL Stadium Series showdown arrived for three thrilling days of hockey related mayhem in Mid-Tenn.

The Stadium Series comes to Smashville.

The NHL began playing outdoors in the modern era in 2003 and by all accounts the ongoing series has been nothing short of a sizzling success. By deciding to bring two teams from the Sun Belt together in the south the league was taking a bit of a chance as ice and sunshine are not historical allies with one another. For a while there the game to be played at Nissan Stadium on Saturday, February 26, 2022 was in question due to a week's worth of warm rain that kept the quality of the playing surface in doubt. But, the ghosts of the original six shone down on Tennessee and a wave of colder game time air meant the match could move forward without delay.

Rising country music stars were a big part of the Stadium Series festivities.

Being that the Stadium Series was taking place in Music City of course music would be a central component to all of the enticing pre-game activities. In Walk of Fame Park that sits right next to the home arena of the Predators a three-day celebration was scheduled as the grounds were renamed "Winter Park". While there we enjoyed up-and-comers Morgan Evans and Parmalee and took in some of the exhibits that were set-up including the College Football National Championship Trophy and other NHL hardware.

One of the many stages set up by the NHL in Music City.

The league's crown jewel - also known as the Stanley Cup - was on site at the pre-game block party sponsored by Truly Hard Seltzer and there was a substantial line as hundreds of fans queued up to glimpse the hallowed prize. Thousands of followers of rising country superstar Walker Hayes also gathered in time for his 4:30 p.m. slot on the Tik Tok stage as the showdown inside the stadium neared. Even more Country Music royalty would appear inside later with the likes of Miranda Lambert, Dierks Bentley, Dustin Lynch and Jessie James Decker all showing the nation what Music City is all about in well-orchestrated and choreographed pre-game and half-time performances.

More fun with the Smash Boat and beach sand courtesy of the Bolts.

But, the fun wasn't done as the NHL Pregame Fan Festival held at Lot R at Nissan Stadium had a full slate of family fun activities ready to go. First was the "Smashville" inspired Smash Boat that allowed fans to take a sledge hammer to a doomed dinghy painted in Lightning colors. But, the Florida team got the joke as they generously carted tons of Tampa Bay area sand to feel more at home in our land-locked state. The Truly Hard Seltzer Accuracy Challenge, Truly Hard Seltzer Target Practice, Truly Hard Seltzer Hardest Shot and the Navy Federal Credit Union Hockey Puck Shot Challenge all tested the skills of the attendees as the puck drop approached.

These fashionable ladies put the "yee haw" in "yee hawkey"!

As for the game itself it was everything the league could have hoped for. More than 68,000 fans found their seats in the stadium as the two-time defending champion Bolts defeated the hometown heroes 3-2 in a chilly outdoor nailbiter. The series has come a long way since 2003 when the made for TV experience allowed fans to see how the sausage was made a bit with a few wires not tucked into place and many of the bells and whistles left for another day. In Nashville, everything was buttoned down, branded and shiny and looked so, so good on the big screen. It was a shame they even had to tear it all down. But, there are now two to three outdoor events every season so hopefully it won't be too long until they do it all over again in Smashville.

Giants blow-ups outside of the stadium pointed to the original six and early days of the NHL.

Related Links: For more information on the NHL STADIUM SERIES and the other organizations mentioned please visit the following links - NHL Stadium Series | Nashville Predators | Walker Hayes | Parmalee | Morgan Evans | The Day of the Walking Pred | NHL Fan Fest in Music City


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